Part 26: Battle 12: Lair of the Bird-Dragon
Recon and Search (R&S) Team Alpha
R&S Team Bravo
Local intelligence reports have placed the Holy Dragon Garuda within a local cave that is infested with dangerous monsters.
Terrain: The cave system that Garuda is located in is riddled with narrow passages, caved in sections, and magma vents. As a result our avenues of approach are painfully narrow and several restrict our movement. The magma vents present an obstacle that must be neutralized before we will be able to move freely within the cave. A toxic pool of green liquid prevents easy access to Garuda, making the passageway around it the most key terrain during this battle.
Disposition: The monsters within the cave are grouped in a few small clusters with outliers in isolated branches of the cave system. A wide variety of monsters reside within the cave including various undead, giants, vampire bats, cave dwelling birds, rabbits, and even some kind of giant moth. Of the monsters listed, only the robed undead appear to possess any worthwhile long-ranged attack capability.
Enemy's most likely course of action: The enemy will most likely remain in place until they become aware of our presence and then rush forward in a mass attack.
Enemy's most dangerous course of action: The enemy could present a significant threat if they were to clear the central passageway and move to block our separated elements, then regroup on the main effort.
The KRF will conduct a breach and clear operation of Garuda's cave in order to secure access to the Holy Dragon and gain its assistance for future operations.
Concept of the Operation: In order to clear as many monsters from the cave's area as possible and secure treasure rumored to be hidden within the cave, our forces will split into three groups. The first group will conduct a recon and search operation to the north-northwest of our starting position, while the second will head directly east. The main group will advance on the enemy, with the other two groups rejoining the main effort for a final attack on the Grand Moth in front of Garuda's chamber.
Scheme of Maneuver: The first R&S team, composed of Lukia and Matelite's groups, will move out first and be expected to deal with any enemy forces in their vicinity while securing the trove to our north. The second R&S team is expected to face lighter resistance, and as a result will consist solely of a group of lancers under Mist. Myself, Sendak, and Yoyo will comprise the main effort with the irregular troops in reserve.
The battle began with a bang as Lukia and Matelite's groups had immediate success, removing one of the enemy's magic using undead groups from battle before they could even cast a single spell.
Indeed, our main forces weren't able to perform nearly as well due to an unfortunate distance between themselves and their target.
To the east Sue and the lancers ran into extremely light resistance in the form of a group of cave birds.
While the cave birds caused light damage to Sue, she retaliated with extreme prejudice.
After wiping out the robed undead that threatened us, Pinky demonstrated that he had learned from the example of some of the other dragons by utilizing healing magic to disrupt a group of undead. Unfortunately, this was somewhat less effective than his other techniques would have been.
Seeing no need to waste time Yoyo and Sendak called Leviathan to begin striking at the first giant that came within range. The attack wasn't enough to finish the giant, but ended up extinguishing three lava vents and converting them into glowing obsidian caps.
To our east Mist's group couldn't quite reach the treasure chest we were after, but did succeed in clearing a cave in with a lightning technique in order to open up a separate route toward Garuda.
Meanwhile Lukia's group was kept busy dealing with some of the undead foot soldiers in their portion of the cave. Despite the unwholesome vitality of the undead, they were destroyed following the battle.
In the same area Matelite and his troops were able to come to blows with one of the giants and destroy it more or less singlehandedly, a feat worthy of note considering the sheer size of the beast.
Working together Flammie and Yoyo and Sendak's group vanquished the final remaining group of undead within the cavern.
Shortly afterward a previously unnoticed group of vampire bats attacked Pinky, and paid for their insolence in the most appropriate manner possible. Overall, the only substantial threats within the area appeared to come from the numerous giants.
Our irregulars finally did something of note, pulling out a bizarre sorcery that struck every creature on the battlefield with wracking pain. I can't complain terribly much, as it apparently hurt the enemy far more than it hurt us... although the grand moth appeared unfazed.
Especially since use of HP draining magic and a few recovery spells was more than enough to put everyone right again. While the technique was useful, the Mini-Devils also invalidated by a technique a few moments later that healed everyone on the battlefield.
Just as everything was appearing to come up roses, Mist's group managed to trigger a strange trap in one of the chests scattered around the cave. I suppose finding a bunch of treasure chests just lying about in a well known cave was too good to be true... this particular trap targeted petrification magic at Mist's group, putting one of the lancers down momentarily.
A blast of lightning from Lukia's group cleared the way for R&S Team Alpha to explore the walled off area of the cavern, unthreatened by any monsters.
In the center, Yoyo and Sendak's team had far too close of an encounter with one of the cave giants. While the creatures are slow and inaccurate, when they do manage to connect their strength is frightening.
In the end my group and Pinky had to step in to deal with the giant since none of the rest could stand against it in close combat.
After the giant was finished off, the priests had a reason to pull our a rarely used spell to call the fallen Diana back to the living.
Another trap caused some havoc with R&S Team Alpha, demonstrating the sophistication that was put into this cave's layout. This trap actually triggered gravity magic on the people who stepped on it. The rest of the chests actually contained treasure, including a Sigrun rapier.
Having recovered from their own trap, Mist's group had unexpectedly drawn the attention of a number of enemy groups by re-opening the previously blocked passage. The most surreal enemies had to be the cotton tails, giant rabbits that the group struck down with earth magic.
While all this was going on, I was engaged in a search for a relatively unremarkable treasure chest in the far northern section of the cavern. I suppose that they could have used my help, but I had full confidence in the rest of the troops. The treasure chest itself was surrounded by vents, delaying me further.
Sue found herself beleaguered by a pair of giants and in serious trouble, prompting Sendak and Yoyo's group to rush to their aid.
Despite absorbing a considerable pounding, however, Sue struck back again and again at the giants. Her resilience was incredible to watch. Eventually she managed to take one down, something that only one of the other dragons could claim.
Combining multiple summons of Valitora Yoyo and Sendak were able to destroy the second giant, leaving the Grand Moth isolated on the battlefield.
Feeling left out of the action, Clyde rushed over to be the first to tangle with the moth. Somewhat atypically, he chose to use fire in his initial attack.
Mist's team, unable to reach the treasure chest that was their main objective, also chimed in with their two gold.
Advancing through the storm of fire and lightning that swirled around the Grand Moth they were able to finally open the chest and find a rare piece of heavy armor inside.
The moth itself wasn't terribly impressive, although it did have a unique energy beam-like breath attack. The main obstacle to dealing with it was actually just wearing it down over time.
The length of the cave revealed another weakness in our dragons: their magical endurance is lacking. By the end of the battle several of them had been reduced to striking at the grand moth with teeth and claws.
In the end, it was the Mini-Devils who finally struck the beast down with.. curtains of solid magical light? While they were able to finish the moth, I'm finding them to unreliable to be depended on now that more troops are available.
Like the previous guardian beast, the moth spoke before it died... where was it planning to return to?
As we approached the door, Yoyo seemed to be disturbed by how the Holy Dragons were reacting within her..
As usual, Yoyo went in by herself and we could see flickers of light around the fittings of the door.
Unusually, however, when the door opened Yoyo was barely able to walk and collapsed shortly afterward. Something had gone drastically wrong inside the chamber...
Matelite was right; we really had no other choice.